Girlhood (It’s complicated) is an exhibition at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), part of the Smithsonian Institution, which opened in October of 2020. Created with federal funding as part of the American Women’s History Initiative (AWHI), the exhibition commemorates the centennial of women’s suffrage. To put a fresh spin on this anniversary and draw attention to larger, intertwining issues of gender and politics in the United States, the exhibition team chose to explore the history of girlhood and girls as political actors as the focus of the show. Drawing on the rich, interdisciplinary literature of girlhood studies and inspired by zines as a form of identity creation and political self-expression, the show aims to create a public history of girlhood that unveils the public lives of girls in the past and showcases the many ways in which they, even without the vote or formal political power, have had a political voice in American history. The exhibition is open at the NMAH from October 2020 to January 2023, and will travel with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service through 2026.

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